Children’s Lit Course Outline

Next month, I will teach a course for OLE (Opportunities for Lifelong Education). It’s this amazing organization which primarily attracts seniors/retirees and provides fantastic classes for a low yearly membership. I wish I were free during the weekdays to take some of their classes. I’ve guest taught in a class before (I taught the early literacy section of the early childhood development for grandparents class), but this is my first time teaching an entire course.

My class is four sessions of an hour and a half each. (Can I talk about children’s literature for six hours? Easily. Do I think my husband would appreciate someone else hearing it for a chance? Definitely.) I’ve got this basic outline, let me know what you think I am missing.

Children’s Literature for Grandparents and the Young at Heart

Course Description:
You’re never too old to love and appreciate children’s literature. Elizabeth Nicolai will cover a range of books from picture stories to teen reads, and will describe the history of children’s literature, the award winners, and the best and most popular books on the shelves today. She will also talk about matching books to reading and development level and how to grow a life-long reader. Come learn more about children’s books for you or the kids in your life.

Week One: Overview, Alaskan Children’s Books & Non-Fiction

  • Introductions
  • History
  • How to encourage a child to be a reader
  • Diversity in Children’s Literature*
    • Belpre, King, Stonewall & other awards
    • We Need Diverse Books
  • Alaskan Children’s Books
  • Non-fiction
    • Siebert Medal
    • Non-fiction for preschoolers
    • Series Non-fiction
    • Report Non-fiction vs Narrative Non-fiction
    • New, Amazing, & Popular

Week Two: Board Books to Beginning Readers

  • Early Literacy
  • Storytime Books vs One on One books
  • Caldecott Award & Geisel Award
  • Phonics, Sight Words, and Beginning Readers Oh MY!
  • New, Amazing, & Popular

Week Three: Chapter Books

  • Beginning Chapter Books
  • Elementary School Reader Development
  • Series Books
  • Genre Books
  • Graphic Novels
  • Newbery Medal
  • New, Amazing, & Popular

Week Four: Teen/YA Fiction

  • Emergence of Teen Literature
  • Controversial Books
  • Is it all dystopias?
  • New, Amazing, & Popular

*Diversity -while I am specifically calling it out on week one, I will be using diverse books as my examples throughout the entire course.


  1. Really looking forward to reading/hearing more about this, Elizabeth. I think the focus on diversity and local authors/books is great. Common receptions (read: stereotypes) about American readers are how conservative and Christianity-oriented they are, as demonstrated by some of the children’s and YA books challenged across the country. (I was one of the attendees at the 2017 Reading Matter Conference organised by the State Library Victoria’s Centre for Youth Literature here in Australia, and wrote some blog posts on this topic.) However, i am sure you have your own unique, balanced and positive views about this, and I look forward to reading/hearing about them. Also, apart from diversity, I think a lot of attention here in Australia is paid to the important role of librarians, teachers and (grand)parents in fostering a reading habit in kids, to sci-fi and fantasy, and to LGBT+ communities. I assume things are a bit different in America/Alaska. Anyway, best wishes to your teaching! Sincerely, Christine Yunn-Yu Sun, Melbourne, Australia.


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